Category: Education

ASUU to hold NEC meeting on Sunday

The Academic Staff Union of the University is set to hold a quarterly National Executive Council meeting at the University of Calabar on Sunday.

A member of the NEC confirmed this to our correspondent on Saturday in Abuja.

“There is a quarterly NEC, and it’s for the fourth quarter.” Lots of issues will come up, and definitely the issue of withheld and amputated salaries will come up.

The national president of the union, Professor Emmanuel Osodeke, could not be immediately reached for comment on the matter.

GOGAN TV reports that after ASUU suspended its strike on October 14, the lecturers were paid a “mutilated” salary for the month and the remaining months’ salaries were withheld.

The Federal Government said the payment was on a pro-rata basis as the union only suspended its strike two weeks into the month. But ASUU protested, accusing the government of “casualizing” the work of the academics.

Despite protests and the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, the executive arm of government has insisted it will not shift ground on implementing the “No Work, No Pay” policy.

The decision of the government to withhold the salaries of lecturers had led to a series of protests across the country, with some branches of the union calling for the sacking of the minister of education, Adamu Adamu, and the minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige.

However, the union confirmed that its members received full salaries for the month of November 2022.

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Ex-minister advocates effective student loan scheme implementation

Prof. Tunde Adeniran, a former minister of education, has advocated for the appropriate implementation of the planned student loan program in order to ensure that its goals are met.

He made this after the National Assembly recently passed the Student Loan Bill.

The Academic Staff Union of Universities’ ongoing financing dispute with the government would be partially resolved if the loan was implemented properly. the ex-minister said

Adeniran said, “I believe the idea of student loans is a good one, so that those whose parents cannot afford it can have access to them.” But the loans have to be administered appropriately so that they are not done in the usual way Nigerians do things.

“The idea or policy may be fine, but the implementation may be faulty; people who understand that this is for the promotion of education and to help the poor should be in charge of it.”

“What we are doing now is free education to the university level. With the many leakages in our national budget, there is no way you can expect that free education in our present system has all that it takes in terms of infrastructural development and yet be able to do what needs to be done in terms of funding.

He, however, called for collaboration between the government, the private sector, and parents or guardians who are the ultimate beneficiaries of such education.

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Aisha bows to pressure, drops case against Internet troll

The wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, has withdrawn her case against a final-year student at the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Aminu Mohammed, following pressure and condemnation by activists, Amnesty International, the National Association of Nigerian Students, and other Nigerians.

The prosecution counsel, Fidelis Ogbobe, while withdrawing the case on behalf of Mrs. Buhari, said the President’s wife, being the mother of the nation, decided to withdraw the case following the intervention of “well-meaning Nigerians.”

In moving a motion for the withdrawal of the case, Ogbobe cited Section 108 (2)(a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory commended Mrs. Buhari for withdrawing the case.

Halilu, while issuing the release warrant, called on parents to always monitor their children to avoid recurrence-Ondo Female Regents

The 24-year-old student had alleged in Hausa that the wife of the president was “feeding fat on poor people’s money.” It was reported that he was moved from Bauchi to Abuja on Aisha’s command and locked up.

Muhammad’s uncle, Shebu Azare, said, in an interview published by BBC Hausa on Monday, that the victim’s father, Mallam Adamu, was not aware of his son’s arrest until five days later, when the matter had escalated.

The matter had also generated a lot of reactions, with prominent Nigerians, including the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore, and other human rights activists, calling for the student’s release.

According to a police report, Muhammad was arrested at the Federal University of Dutse on November 18, 2022, after the wife of the President instructed a team of police detectives to track him down.

The Presidency had also barred visitors from visiting inmates at the Suleja Correctional Centre, Niger State, following the arrest of Aminu.

One of our correspondents who visited the facility observed a heavy presence of security agents, with an inscription, “No Visitation,” at the entrance.

A security agent told our source that there was an order from the Presidency barring all forms of visitation following Muhammad’s arrival at the facility.

“We can’t let you into the facility.” No one is allowed to see Aminu. In fact, since he was brought in on Tuesday, no one has been allowed to visit inmates within the facility. “You can read the note on the wall; no visitation is allowed, and I don’t want to lose my job,” he told one of our correspondents.

The officer, however, noted that the detained student lacked food since he arrived at the facility on Tuesday, adding that he only had N2,000 on him, which he had already spent, and could not afford to get food since no one was allowed to visit or call him.

The security agent added, “I feel for the boy; he arrived here with just N2,000, and it is finished.” He complained of hunger today (Thursday), but there was nothing we could do since no one had been allowed to visit or call him. He only ate bread this morning.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International Nigeria condemned the arrest and alleged torture of Muhammad and called for his immediate release.

Its Director at Amnesty International, Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, said, “The Nigerian authorities must urgently release Aminu Muhammad and drop all charges against him.” He is a student accused of defaming Aisha Buhari, the first lady of Nigeria, on Twitter.

“It is beyond disgraceful that the Nigerian authorities have arrested and allegedly tortured Aminu Muhammad after he merely tweeted about the first lady of Nigeria. This deeply repressive act brazenly violates his human rights.

“The bogus charges against Aminu must be urgently and unconditionally dropped. The authorities should instead order an investigation into his unlawful detention and abusive treatment. The fact that he was detained incommunicado highlights the rampant impunity enjoyed by the Nigerian authorities.

Aminu’s final exams are scheduled for December 5, 2022, at the Federal University, Dutse. “He must be urgently freed and be able to finish his degree.”

On November 29, 2022, Muhammad was charged with cybercrime, cybersquatting, computer-related forgery, conspiracy, and criminal breach of trust.

But Amnesty International noted that though President Muhammadu Buhari ratified the Anti-Torture Act in 2017, torture and other ill-treatment remained pervasive in Nigeria, with police and state security agents continuing to subject detainees to torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

Ojigho added, “The heavy-handed mistreatment of Aminu is a clear attempt to strike fear into the hearts of young Nigerians who use social media to hold the powerful to account.” The Nigerian authorities must urgently respect and uphold the right to freedom of expression.

Amnesty International is concerned by the growing number of attacks on freedom of expression in Nigeria. The authorities are increasingly using unlawful arrests and ill-treatment to stifle those who criticize the state. “This must stop now.”

However, over 2000 Nigerians have signed a petition seeking the release of the detained undergraduate, who they said had been languishing in detention after some security officials, including the police and men of the Department of State Services, arrested him over a post he made on Twitter months ago.

A petition with the title “Free Aminu” was started on the global change website, change.org, by one Ife David, demanding the student’s unconditional release. As of the time of filing this report on Friday, the petition had garnered over 2,000 signatures from Nigerians, calling for the release of the student and a probe of the wife of the president, Aisha, for what they termed an “abuse of power.”

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Ex-Zamfara university VC jailed 35 years

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission secured the conviction of a former Vice Chancellor of the Federal University, Gusau, Zamfara State, Professor Magaji Garba, on Thursday.

The anti-graft agency, in a statement, noted that Justice Maryam Aliyu of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Garki, Abuja, found him guilty of five counts bordering on obtaining money by false pretenses and forgery and sentenced him to 35 years in jail.

The PUNCH reports that Garba was arraigned by the EFCC on October 12, 2021, for allegedly extorting various sums from a contractor on the pretext of awarding him a contract worth N3 billion for the perimeter wall fencing of the university.

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Lecturers block road, call interventions unfruitful

Members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities on Thursday continued to protest in their respective institutions as directed by the union’s national body.

The peaceful protests held in different chapters to show displeasure at the withheld salaries of the union members after their eight-month strike

Lecturers at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, blocked the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway in protest of the half-salary they received in October, the backlog of salaries, and other poor working conditions.

The protest, which kicked off at the union secretariat, continued down to the university gate by the Enugu-Onitsha highway, where the road was barricaded for some minutes.

Speaking to journalists after the protest, the UNIZIK ASUU Chairman, Stephen Ufoaroh, said, “As I speak to you, the intervention of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, has not yielded any positive result.

“We are using this protest to ask the masses to appeal to the federal government to do the needful now to avert further crisis in the nation’s universities.”

The Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof. Charles Esimone, in his solidarity message, said his heart was bleeding because of the deplorable conditions under which lecturers were working in the country.

In Owerri, Imo State, lecturers at the Federal University of Technology stopped teaching on Thursday.

While carrying placards with various inscriptions, the lecturers marched on the campus, accusing the FG of destroying the country’s academic system.

Addressing the Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Nnenna Oti, the Chairman of ASUU at FUTO, Chinedu Ihejirika, accused the FG of “weaponizing hunger to frustrate university lecturers in Nigeria.”

Ihejirika, who urged the FG to implement the 2009 ASUU-FG agreement, vowed that no amount of intimidation would deter ASUU from demanding an improved public education system in Nigeria.

He said, “Our cardinal demands are: funding for the revitalization of Nigerian public universities (improved infrastructure, conducive teaching and learning environments, student and staff accommodations, equipment for laboratories and libraries, among others); payment of arrears of earned academic allowances; deployment of the University Transparency and Accountability Solution, which addresses the peculiarities of academic staff in universities, among others.

“We urge the government to stop forthwith the weaponization of hunger to whip academics into submission and pay us all our withheld salaries spanning more than seven months.” “A strike all over the world is a legitimate tool to press home workers’ demands and grievances.”

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Trading platform developed for power firms and consumers

Power generation, distribution, and transmission companies, gas suppliers, and consumers, among others, will conduct electricity transactions through an automated energy trading platform in 2023, the Federal Government has said.

The government said the platform would facilitate an automated and transparent marketplace and would serve as a system for the consummation of bilateral contracts for energy using standard template contracts.

Managing Director, Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc, Nnaemeka Ewelukwa, disclosed this in a presentation titled, ‘Actualising Enhanced Electricity Supply and Commercial/Industrial Decarbonisation in Nigeria.’

In the document, which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday, Ewelukwa stated that the platform would also serve as a spot market for real-time energy trading as the market developed further.

He said, “IPPs (independent power plants) wishing to sell power can register on the platform and immediately have access to a comprehensive database of commercial and industrial customers across the country and their energy requirements.”

“A comprehensive interactive map will be developed, showing the geo-locations of the following facilities within Nigeria and the ECOWAS region (existing, on-going, and proposed).”

“The entities include commercial and industrial customers and industrial clusters; generation plants; transmission and distribution networks; gas pipeline networks; and energy locations, including solar irradiation, wind, and mini-hydro potentials.”

Ewelukwa said the interactive map would facilitate transaction structuring by willing buyers and sellers.

It would also boost network investment coordination and guide investment decision-making while facilitating greater policy planning and efficient resource planning.

“It will ensure the efficient linking of sufficient numbers of buyers and sellers, thus facilitating price discovery,” he said.

He added, “With price discovery, energy buyers and sellers have the assurance that they are purchasing these commodities at fair prices in a reliable marketplace.”

“Ultimately, it will enhance overall visibility of tariffs, capacity availability, costs, and prices along the energy value chain, which will aid buyers and sellers in undertaking transactions.”

Ewelukwa said the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, and the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority were being engaged by NBET on the new initiative.

He further noted that the Federal Ministries of Power, Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Industry, Trade, and Investment, as well as the media and CSOs, were being engaged.

On industry groups that the NBET was interacting with, Ewelukwa outlined them to include: the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (3064 members); the Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (332 members); the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture (64 member chambers; 401 corporate members); the Nigeria Association of Small-Scale Industrialists; and the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.

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Native Tongue Approved as Compulsory Language of Instruction in Schools

The federal government has approved a new National Language Policy which makes mother tongue a compulsory medium of instruction for public primary school pupils.

Making this disclosure Wednesday was the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, while briefing reporters on the outcome of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja.

While explaining that the government is aware that its implementation will be difficult, the minister revealed that the mother tongue will be used exclusively for the first six years of education, while it will be combined with English in junior secondary school.

According to him, even though the policy has officially taken effect, it can only be fully implemented when the government develops instructional materials and qualified teachers are available.

Adamu explained that the mother tongue to be used in each school will be the dominant language spoken by the community where it is located.

The minister said the government is prepared to preserve cultures and their peculiar idiosyncrasies, stressing that so much has been lost due to the extinction of some local languages.

He assured Nigerians that all Nigerian languages, of which he said there are over 600, are equal and will be treated as such.

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INEC deploys BVAS in two Geo-political zones

The Independent National Electoral Commission has finally begun the distribution of Bimodal Voter Accreditation System facilities to the remaining parts of the country, including the north-east and south-east states, which hitherto had yet to get the vital election equipment.

It was learned on Wednesday that the agency had resumed the airlift of BVAS to states amid security concerns over the safety of the electoral equipment.

On the social media handles of INEC, it was reported that the chairman of INEC, Mahmood Yakubu, supervised the airlift at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, on Wednesday.

INEC had confirmed in early November that the North-East and South-East zones were yet to receive BVAS.

The North-East states affected include Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba, and Yobe, while the states in the South-East are Imo, Anambra, Abia, Enugu, and Ebonyi.

The Punch had reported in October that the electoral commission had distributed BVAS to over 23 states across the federation.

An online report blamed insecurity for the delay in the deployment of BVAS in the South-East.

Responding exclusively to local media, the National Commissioner and Chairman, Information and Voter Education Committee (INEC, Festus Okoye, explained in November that the non-delivery and non-receipt of the BVAS by the two zones had nothing to do with insecurity.

He explained, “The commission has planned and will continue to plan all the activities relating to the conduct of the 2023 general election.” The procurement of sensitive and non-sensitive materials, their delivery, and their deployment have been carefully designed and planned by the commission.

“The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System was designed in-house by the commission’s engineers and is being fabricated outside the country.” The manufacturers have kept faith with the timelines and schedules of production and delivery as handed over to them by the commission. The commission has started receiving deliveries from the designated airports and from designated states, and these have equally been delivered to some of the states of the federation.

“Presently, the consignments meant for the North and East have not been received by the commission and could not have been delivered to the states.”

He added, “The manufacturers are following the timelines and schedules given by the Commission.” The non-delivery and non-receipt of the BVAS by the states in the Northeast and Southeast has absolutely nothing to do with insecurity or the activities of gunmen or bandits.

“The commission is following its timeline, and all the consignments meant for all the states of the federation will be delivered in 2022.” The commission will carry out mock accreditation in all the states of the federation, and this will take place simultaneously in all the states of the federation.

“The commission is meticulously following its own timelines, and we have procured enough BVAS to service the 176,846 polling units in the country, and there will be sufficient redundancies for the 8,809 registration areas.” “We have also procured additional ones for purposes of training our registration area technical support staff.”

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Air Force has also confirmed that it has begun the airlift of election materials for INEC ahead of the 2023 polls.

A NAF spokesperson, Air Commodore Edward Gabkwet, said, “We are assisting INEC in the airlifting of electoral materials for now.” However, we can’t provide aerial support to all INEC offices nationwide at the same time.

The Director, Defence Information, Maj. Gen. Jimmy Akpor, has said the military will ensure support for the police and other civil authorities whenever it is called upon especially during the elections

In an interview with our correspondent, Akpor said, “The military would do everything to support the civil authority in ensuring that the country’s political and social space is protected for socioeconomic activities and the forthcoming elections can go on peacefully.”

“However, it should be noted that election security is the duty of the Nigeria Police Force.” It is the job of the police, and we’ll support the police as a civil authority on election matters and internal security whenever we’re called upon.

“We’ll support the police.” We’ll not hold back any support whenever we’re called upon. However, the current situation is not beyond the police’s control, and contingencies are being updated to improve the situation, and we’ll give them whatever support they need.

Meanwhile, findings by a source on Wednesday showed some of the North-East and South-East states received some batches of their BVAS a few weeks ago.

The Borno State office of INEC confirmed receipt of the BVAS on Wednesday.

“We received BVAS about a month ago,” the Head of Voter Education and Publicity of the office, Shuaibu Ibrahim, affirmed in a telephone interview. “These are sensitive materials, so we are not supposed to speak to the public about them,” he concluded, declining to respond to further questions.

Checks also revealed that 2,988 BVAS had been shipped to Gombe State. A source explained that 2,988 is the exact number of polling units in the state.

She said, “We have received 2,988 BVAS at the moment; backup will arrive later.”

The new resident electoral commissioner for Adamawa State, Mr. Hudu Ari, said the state had taken delivery of 4,104 BVAS, which would be deployed for election in all 40 constituencies in the state.

Ari said, “In terms of our preparedness, we had engagements with a good number of stakeholders in the state, and we are still engaging with more.” Among the groups we engaged are the political parties, security agencies, civil society organizations, media, PWDs, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, youth organizations, women’s groups, MDAs, etc. We also intend to engage with traditional rulers and other critical stakeholders in the coming weeks.

Similarly, the INEC Public Relations Officer in Kaduna State, Mrs. Rukaya Lamam, disclosed that they received the BVAS about a month ago.

But the INEC spokesman in Anambra State, Dr. Kingsley Agwu, said the office had yet to receive the BVAS machines in the state.

However, checks indicate that the BVAS would soon be dispatched to the states in the South-East region in the coming weeks.

In a related development, no fewer than 1,993 ballot boxes, 399 voting cubicles, 22 electric power generators, and thousands of uncollected PVCs had been destroyed in various attacks carried out on INEC facilities across the states.

The INEC Chairman, Yakubu, disclosed this at the induction retreat for new Resident Electoral Commissioners in Lagos.

Yakubu said the attacks were carried out in four months on offices of the Commission in five local government areas by unknown people.

He said, “I wish to once again touch on the troubling issue of attacks on our facilities and the destruction of critical electoral assets in the country.” In the last four months, five local government area offices of the commission were attacked by yet unknown persons.

“In these mindless attacks, a total of 1,993 ballot boxes, 399 voting cubicles, 22 electric power generators, and thousands of uncollected PVCs were, among other materials, destroyed.” “These attacks must stop, and the perpetrators must be apprehended and prosecuted.”

Furthermore, the House resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to “investigate the remote and immediate causes of the incessant inferno at INEC offices in different parts of the country and report back within three weeks for further legislative action.”

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Aisha Buhari’s Twitter troll remanded in Suleja prison

A 500-level student of the Federal University, Dutse, Aminu Muhammad, accused of criticizing the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari, has been remanded in a custodial center.

Local media reported that the 24-year-old was remanded after his arraignment at the FCT High Court on Tuesday.

The charge read, “That you, Aminu Adamu, of Anguwar Sarakuna, Bauchi, Bauchi State, sometime between May and June 2022 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did intentionally open a Twitter handle with the name @aminullahie Catalyst and screenshot the image of Her Excellency, Hajia Aisha Buhari, and wrote on it in Hausa language ‘Su mama anchi kudi talakawa ankoshi’ roughly translated to English language to mean ‘Mama has embezzled monies meant for the poor to satisfaction’ and posted same on your above Twitter handle for the members of the public to read, knowing same to be false and capable of affecting her reputation. “You thereby committed an offense punishable under Section 391 of the Penal Code.”

The British Broadcasting Corporation’s Hausa Service reported on Wednesday that Aminu’s lawyer, CK Agu, said since November 25, 2022, he had demanded bail for the student without any result.

The lawyer stated, “Even during yesterday’s court sitting, we told the judge that we requested his release from the police on bail, but they did not respond whether they would release him or not.”

“Based on this, we applied to the court for his bail on health grounds and because he is about to write his exams on December 5.” The court ordered the security agents to release him on the exigency applied for to hear the application today or next.”

Aminu’s parents had told the BBC that their son would be taken to court on Wednesday before his lawyer confirmed that the sitting commenced on Tuesday.

When Aminu’s lawyer was asked about his whereabouts, he said he was detained at the Suleja Custodial Center pending the hearing on his bail application. The arrest of the Federal University of Dutse, Jigawa State’s student, generated debate, especially on social media, where many alleged that his arrest and detention were illegal.

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JUST IN: ASUU receive full November salaries; arrears withheld

Lecturers under the aegis of the Academic Staff Union of Universities have received full salaries for the month of November 2022, GOGAN TV can confirm.

Our correspondent also gathered that the eight-month arrears remained withheld by the federal government.

A senior member of the union at the Bayero University in Kano made this known in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday.

“Some of our members have started receiving salaries, and I can confirm to you that we received our full salaries for the month of November. However, the arrears are still withheld.

GOGAN TV reports that the Federal Government refused to pay the striking lecturers for the eight months during which the union embarked on strike.

The lecturers, in October 2022 were also paid pro-rata (half-pay) according to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

Lecturers across the country have been protesting against this decision by the federal government.

The National Executive Council of the union is expected to hold a crucial meeting in the coming days over the withheld salaries.

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